The coming of the DEA to Guyana – commentary

The coming of the DEA

JULY 24, 2014 | BY KNEWS |  EDITORIAL 

The long awaited official United States Drug Enforcement Administration presence within these borders is a welcome departure from the intransigent posture and insipid rhetoric from officialdom to which we have become accustomed.

It is a truism that crime knows no geographic boundaries and the ease with which transnational criminal enterprises flourish in the realms of drug trafficking and money laundering bears that fact out.  The increasingly international scope of this type of criminal activity has proven complex in the face of law enforcement efforts to interdict the illicit proceeds of these crimes.

However, the uninformed among us would want to know what capacities and capabilities have been developed in consideration of the aspects of money laundering, and whether these are aggressively being investigated in a scenario where confidential information-sharing is problematic. 

The DEA, it is expected, will be aware of the myriad techniques employed by the drug trafficker to hide their ill-gotten gains based upon lessons learned in their various surveillance and interdiction initiatives.  Our local sleuths can add to their existing body of knowledge in this regard.
Illicit drug transactions are basically cash transactions that the drug traffickers conceal and convert to appear as if the cash was generated by a legitimate business transaction.  Simply put, it is the process of legitimizing wealth by disguising its source or ownership.

Opposition Members of Parliament have expressed concerns about the rationale and necessity for certain investments which seem not well thought out including the Marriott Hotel.
The money laundering process occurs in three phases which are briefly described as: (1) Placement – where the money from an illicit source is inserted into an apparently legitimate location; (2) Layering – which is the means by which a series of movements are used to mask the origins of the money; (3) Integration – covers the movement of the laundered funds back into commercial activity.

A couple of examples of the methods employed will suffice at this time to give an idea of some of the challenges inherent in the detection and prosecution of these criminal activities.
The choice of a particular technique depends on the ultimate objective and the unique circumstances prevailing.  The most widely practiced method is to conduct cash transactions with the bank, sometimes exchanging cash for treasury bills, bank drafts, letters of credit, travelers’ cheques etc.

Money exchanges and brokerage houses are sometimes used to avoid the conventional banking system; using cambios to facilitate the transfer of monies to other jurisdictions.  Many traffickers utilise direct investments using successful foreign businesses or dummy foreign corporations as fronts for transactions.

Instances abound where legitimate businesses will agree to accept a new criminal partner who makes the new investment with illicit funds funneled through one of his foreign corporations.
Drug traffickers have also been known to disguise illicit money as profits allegedly derived from a successful foreign business or real estate transaction.  They then pay the requisite taxes as if the venture had been legitimate and use the remainder in any manner they choose.
Double invoicing is another popular technique where a company orders merchandise from its foreign subsidiary at an inflated price and deposits the difference between that and the real price in a special off-shore account.

Sometimes the company reverses the process by selling merchandise at an artificially low price and deposits the difference in a secret foreign bank account maintained by the company.
Another practice employed is the selling of a business which ostensibly shows substantial cash flows and which should – all things being equal, realize a better selling price.  The conventional view is that there is an abundance of anecdotal and other evidence to assist the work of the DEA.  We have seen it all.

The number of unique money laundering techniques has proven difficult and time consuming for local agencies like the Financial Investigative Unit to effectively get a handle on the illegal methods and proceeds of the drug trafficker.  Guyanese are unarguably ranked among the smartest people on planet earth and it is therefore safe to assume that even the DEA will be challenged to come to grips with the more ingenious techniques employed by drug traffickers who it is believed occupy the top rungs of society.

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Comments

  • Michael O Alstrom  On July 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Well done

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

  • Cyril Balkaran  On July 25, 2014 at 2:22 am

    Does smartness of a people qualify u to abuse your intelligence. Only recently the FBI has arrested more than 100 US Guyanese residents in New York for what has been described as the largest Visa Card Scam in the History of the USA. These Guyanese who are legal residents of the USA have put themselves in a unique position where the US citizens will also watch Guyanese as being overly Smart. Money Laundering is rampant in the Caribbean and Guyana and so when our combined opposition of wise men failed to support the Government’s legislation on the money Laundering they have put the entire country on the International black list. So let us WELCOME the DEA of the United States of America. May be we can teach them a few things that they can apply to their jobs as Law Enforcers!. The entire combined opposition with their one majority should hang their heads in shame for bringing Guyana to where it is legally. They want elections before the due date. This Ramotar will never do and if the combined opposition do not merge before the next elections, they will never be able to dislodge Ramotar and Party. This is our Constitutional requirement. So let’s sing the chorus Rule Ramotar Rule. for another term. Why everyone wants to be a President of Guyana? We should follow the Russian model that allowed President Putin to rule as he has done constitutionally! Jagdeo’s exit should never have been taken lightly. He could have been inducted as the Prime Minister instead of retirement!

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